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Equal Pay


The pay disparity between men and women has often fuelled public debate and provided many newspapers with hard hitting headlines. Recently, a Supreme Court ruling resulted in Birmingham City Council revealing that they may need to pay out at least £750m to settle equal pay claims. The issue however is widespread in both the public and private sector.

In general terms one is entitled to have the same terms in his or her contract of employment, including pay and benefits, as members of the opposite sex, as long as the comparator (that being a person of the opposite sex) performs work which is broadly similar, or rated as equivalent, or of equal value. To that end, in law, all employees are deemed to have an equality clause in their contract of employment. If such a difference in contractual entitlement is found, then to avoid liability the employer shall be required to defend the claim by demonstrating a genuine difference between the individual and the comparator which is independent of sex which merits the contractual disparity.

Employers need to be alive to this issue and potential claims. Pay structures should be reviewed and employers should ensure that there are rational, fair and transparent pay guidances/policies in place. Employers are actively encouraged by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to conduct pay audits addressing equal pay in the work place. Members of Chambers are able to advise on such policy implementations and audits.

Individuals who are concerned that they are being paid less than their counterparts would be well advised to resolve the matter informally by discussing the same with their employer or by lodging a formal grievance. Legal advice however should be taken at an earlier juncture as whilst the overarching principles appear simple this is a complex area of law which demands meticulous case preparation from start to finish. To that end, Members of Chambers are wiling to advise from an early stage in the process, in addition to providing effective representation before the Employment Tribunal.

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